Ann Wilson, IMMORTAL

Cover albums often have a common theme, and Ann Wilson (lead singer of Heart) has a common thread on her new album Immortal: performers who have passed away but who left a deep impact on the musical landscape.  Her voice and their music prove to be a strong combination.

Immortal is composed of mostly deep cuts (except for "You Don't Own Me" and "Baker Street"), from artists who have passed away fairly recently and left an impact on the musical landscape.  Songs vary from the poetic (Leonard Cohen's "A Thousand Kisses Deep") to the extremely suggestive (Cream's "Politician") to the inspirational (Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me").

Ann Wilson's vocals are powerful and subtle, adapting themselves to the soft rhythms of "Luna" or the tough commentary of "I'm Afraid of Americans."  The songs aim for originality rather than copying the originals, and while this doesn't always work, it's a mostly successful formula.  The result makes Immortal a very good listen -- and a nice tribute to some of those who have passed on.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch



Fame has its ups and downs, its rewards and pitfalls, its appeals and stresses.  This is covered in A Star Is Born -- and the movie does very well, thanks to some impressive star power in its two leads.

Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper, who co-wrote and directed the movie) is a famous classic rocker, someone everyone seems to know and want their picture with.  Looking for booze after a concert, he winds up at a drag club -- and is entranced by the performance of Ally (Lady Gaga), singing a French song.  She says her looks have kept her from being taken seriously as a professional singer.
Jackson is as entranced by Ally's singing, songwriting, and piano playing as his desire to get her into bed.  Soon he has her joining him on stage at the concerts, where she becomes a viral hit.  In almost no time at all, Allie is being represented as a singer and transformed into a famous pop star, losing the piano and gaining backup dancers.  Meanwhile, Jackson is haunted by either jealousy or disappointment with Allie's career; and his demons of liquor, drugs, and hearing problems come calling.
While the themes of A Star Is Born are familiar (and the movie is a remake), the two stars really make the movie shine.  Bradley Cooper shows both sides of Jackson: the charmer who's easy to like and the self-destructive artist for whom music isn't enough.  Lady Gaga is a revelation as Allie, making her both talented and vulnerable, someone ready to lose what she loved in music as fame seems more and more alluring.  Their musical numbers together are impressive, as is their chemistry.  The result is a beautiful, powerful movie.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch